China’s eased restrictions set to spur Spring Festival travel surge

Soon after the government scrapped the digital travel code used to track travel moves searches for the coming Spring Festival holiday travel options surged by a factor of 12 on


Students check in at an airport in Chongqing to fly home for the winter holidays. [Photo provided to]

December 15, 2022

BEIJING – Travel agencies have forecast that the tourism market will embrace a robust recovery during the approaching Spring Festival holiday in late January in the wake of the government’s continued optimization of COVID-19 control measures.

From Tuesday, the government scrapped the digital travel code to further loosen travel restrictions across regions and provinces. The code was used by authorities to track cellphone data to see if travelers had potentially been to areas classified as “high risk” for COVID-19.

The changes have given the tourism market a shot in the arm. The latest figures from FlightAI, a third-party database for travel portal Group, show that searches for cross-provincial products for the coming Spring Festival holiday surged by a factor of 12 from midnight to 1 pm on Monday, after the suspension of the code was announced.

Searches for flights for the holiday have recovered to roughly the same level as in 2019, according to Group.

Qunar, another travel portal, said that flight bookings for the Spring Festival holiday surged by a factor of nearly 8.5 from Dec 7 after the relaxed COVID-19 control measures were announced. It forecast that flight bookings will peak during the holiday to roughly 80 percent of the level before the pandemic.

“The increase of flight bookings shows people’s strong desire for family reunions. However, there may still be an imbalance as some people are still very cautious about traveling,” said Guo Lechun, deputy director of Qunar’s big data research academy.

“The Spring Festival is recognized as the most important festival to many Chinese people. The pandemic has blocked people from getting home due to travel restrictions in the past three years, and the Spring Festival in 2023 will be a fresh start for people to get back to a normal life,” he added.

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